Secretary Haaland announced the relocation of the Bureau of Land Management headquarters to DC.
The Colorado office will continue to be open and will become the agency's Western headquarters.
In a highly-criticized move, the Trump administration moved the agency to Colorado.
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The Interior secretary Deb Haaland announced Friday that the Bureau of Land Management's national headquarters will be moving back to Washington, DC. This is a reverse of an earlier move by the Trump administration to relocate the agency to the critical Western region.
After losing almost 300 employees to resignation or retirement, the bureau now needs to restructure. It oversees approximately one-fifth US public lands and has over 7,000 employees.
Haaland, an ex-congressionwoman from New Mexico and the first Native American Cabinet Secretary, stated that the Colorado office would soon be restructured to become the Western headquarters of the agency.
The Bureau of Land Management is crucial to the nation’s efforts to address climate crisis, increase public access to public lands, preserve the nation's outdoor heritage, and protect the environment. She stated that it is crucial for the bureau to have the right structure and resources in order to serve the American people. "It is clear that the BLM needs to be represented in Washington, DC as all other land management agencies, to ensure it has the necessary policy-budget- and decision-making tools to carry out its mission effectively."
The Colorado office will broaden and strengthen Western perspectives in its overall mission. This includes clean energy, conservation and scientific missions.
According to data from the Biden administration, approximately 87 percent BLM employees left the agency after the Trump administration initiated the move to the Centennial State.
Critics of the decision by the previous administration claim that it was meant to force out long-term employees and suppress the agency.
Haaland stated that agency employees were in a difficult situation after the earlier move.
She stated that the past few years had been "incredibly disruptive" to the organization, our public servants and their families. "As we move ahead, my priority will be to revive and rebuild the BLM to meet the urgent challenges of our times and to care for our employees' well being."
She said, "I look forwards to continuing to work alongside Congress, Tribes and elected officials, and the many stakeholders care about the stewardship our shared public land and healthy communities."
Ryan Zinke, an ex-Maine congressman and Trump’s first interior secretary set the stage for the move. He stressed during his tenure that officials should have closer access to the vast public lands falling under his agency's jurisdiction. David Bernhardt succeeded Zinke as Interior Secretary.
Many progressives applauded the return to the national capitol, but Democratic Senator Michael Bennet from Colorado lamented the decision while being optimistic about the increased Western presence.
He said that while he was disappointed that the national headquarters would be in Washington, he believes that establishing and growing a permanent BLM Western Headquarter in Grand Junction should be a positive development. "I will hold the Administration responsible to ensure that the BLM Western headquarters is permanent, fully staffed and informed by the voices from the Rocky Mountain West in the coming months."
GOP Senator John Barrasso, Wyoming, blasted the decision.
He stated that the Biden administration's solution to everything was to double government size. The Bureau of Land Management does not need two headquarters. The Bureau of Land Management has a single headquarters in the West. It is closer to its resources and the people it serves.